Google Will Track Cell Phone User Locations to Monitor “Social Distancing”

Google Will Track Cell Phone User Locations to Monitor “Social Distancing”

Story Highlights

  • Google has launched a new electronic surveillance initiative that collects location data from users of Google products and services, including cell phones, to track “social distancing” activity and publicly post “Community Mobility Reports” on a new Google website.
  • Google surveillance reports will track and publicly report on the movements and activity of electronic product users in six locations that include (1) retail and recreation; (2) grocery and pharmacies; (3) parks; (4) transit stations; (5) workplaces and (6) residential areas.
  • Google’s surveillance initiative has raised privacy concerns about collection of data on the movements of people within population areas.

Google has announced that it will use its storage of electronic data to track and publicly report on the movements of individuals at the population level during the COVID-19 pandemic. The electronic surveillance initiative utilizes information that Google has collected on users of Google cell phones and products, such as Google Maps, to create reports on the degree to which populations in different areas are conforming to government “social distancing” measures.1

Google maintains it has consulted with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the new surveillance tool.1 The “mobility reports” will be posted publicly on Google’s new website to show whether particular localities, states or countries are seeing more or less people gathering in different types of public spaces.1

According to Google’s website: “As global communities respond to COVID-19, we’ve heard from public health officials that the same type of aggregated, anonymized insights we use in products such as Google Maps could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19. These Community Mobility Reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19. The reports chart movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.”2

Information Included in Google’s Electronic Surveillance Reports

According to Google, the company plans to publish a series of “Community Mobility Reports” to show the types of places people are visiting across 131 countries and regions.3 The reports contain data from two to three days earlier and will show trends in how populations in different areas are behaving and responding to government “social distancing” regulations, including how many people are still going to work or entering shops and grocery stores, pharmacies, parks and other public spaces.

The electronic surveillance reports will also show traffic comparisons in terms of how busy these places were before the pandemic.3 In the United States, the data will be drilled down to the county level.1

Google said the surveillance data will be collected in aggregate form rather than at an individual level and it will not report absolute numbers of people showing up at parks or grocery stores.4 According to the company, the idea is to outline activity in percentages, which highlight potential surges in attendance.4 For example, in its first report, San Francisco County has seen a 75 percent drop in retail and recreation, a 55 percent decline in parks’ population and a 21 percent increase in residential population between February 16, 2020 and March 29, 2020.5

Data Will be Given to Government Officials

Google has said that this type of electronic surveillance data could be useful in alerting local health departments to identify the next potential COVID-19 hotspot combined with other forms of surveillance data routinely collected by government agencies on a local, state and federal level.5 The data will assist public health officials with targeting specific regions with messaging about the need to abide by social distancing rules and not enter parks or other public spaces where residents routinely gather.

Public health officials want to use the information to monitor populations in different countries as people start to return to school and work after COVID-19 quarantines are lifted to measure disease incidence in areas that are congested and heavily active.4

Google Denies Privacy Violations

Google’s new enterprise has prompted renewed privacy concerns about Google collecting information on the movements of users of Google cell phones and other electronic products.4 Google maintains that the Community Mobility Reports are powered by the same “anonymization” technology that they use in their products every day.6

Google’s blog post states that for these mobility surveillance reports, the company will use differential privacy, which adds artificial noise to the datasets enabling high quality results without identifying any individual person.6 The blog post adds that Google product users have control over whether or not they want to be tracked by turning the Location History setting “on” or “off”: “The insights are created with aggregated, “anonymized” sets of data from users who have turned on the Location History setting, which is off by default. Users who have Location History turned on can choose to turn the setting off at any time from their Google Account, and can always delete Location History data directly from their Timeline.”6


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17 Responses to "Google Will Track Cell Phone User Locations to Monitor “Social Distancing”"

  1. Brian James   April 19, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    Mar 28, 2020 5G and Surveillance Fast-Tracked Under Pretext of Fighting Coronavirus

    While much of the world has been focused on surviving a pandemic, social distancing, and quarantines, the proponents of mass surveillance and 5G have been scoring major gains.

    https://www.takebackyourpower.net/5g-surveillance-fast-tracked-under-coronavirus-pretext/

    Reply
    • Jennifer   April 22, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      https://www.profitconfidential.com/stock/crown-castle-stock/bill-gates-buying-hot-tech-stock/
      Crown Castle International Corp. is a real estate investment trust that owns, operates, and leases more than 40,000 cell towers and roughly 65,000 route miles of fiber in every major American market. The company also has approximately 65,000 on-air or under-contract small cell nodes. (Source: “Our Infrastructure,” Crown Castle International Corp., last accessed February 11, 2019.)
      Small cell networks are a series of small nodes that are often attached to existing infrastructure, like utility poles, signposts, or streetlights. In some cases, Crown Castle also attaches its small cells to the sides and tops of buildings.
      Small cells will play a crucial role in meeting the growing demands of wireless data and increased bandwidth that new technologies like 5G require.

      Reply
  2. Lori Smith   April 20, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Who appointed Google as guardians for the government? These Big Brother tactics are total BS. People will not stand for this as most people I know are social distancing, and how does Google know if people are with family member or not?
    Because I watch several grandchildren, I have had my kids in and out of my house with their children. I rarely leave the house as it is, but I do not carry a phone with me unless I am traveling out of my town, and even then it is rare, so I cannot be tracked, but this is completely unconstitutional.

    Reply
  3. Name   April 20, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Can they track you if:
    1. Location off
    2. Wifi off
    3. Sync off
    4. Bluetooth off

    Reply
    • Amelia Hoskins   April 24, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      I asked this a while ago and was told YES. Because they are all linked to the provider.

      Reply
    • Tony Marzio   May 2, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      Even with phone off in your house they can still listen to you over your phone, and even turn it back on.
      Best to bury the phone forever… Go back to the old flip phone and 3G which is still going strong. There are even 3Gphones we can buy as those who sell these will be making a lot of money, as people disregard their smart phones. No other way to avoid A.I.

      Reply
  4. Colorado   April 20, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    And…. Because of long standing privacy concerns that have stretched back 15 to 20 years, I still have never found a cell phone worth purchasing.

    Told you so. Told you so again. I continue to tell you so.

    Life is better without a leash. Life is better without products produced by communist slave labor. The internet is better with a full speed personal computer complete with keyboard, mouse, and the ability to use things like firefox w/ full range of blockers and settings.

    If you’re using a mobile device, you have already lost this battle.

    Act like an adult, quit being addicted to big tech, and leave your phone at home. Stop paying the cell phone companies, they’ve been tracking everyone like this the entire time. The only difference between then and now, is they’re finally being transparent with the activity the cell phones have been engaging in this whole time.

    Please allow me to introduce you to these really cool concepts like; using a paper printed map book, sending letters by postal mail where censorship is impossible, communicating by email links outside of gmail and google products. It’s not rocket science. You are addicted and therefore, you willingly gave up control.

    Reply
    • EK   April 23, 2020 at 7:15 am

      I couldn’t agree with you more!

      Reply
      • Colorado   April 27, 2020 at 2:42 pm

        https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/

        Informational reference.

        Google has been tracking everyone anyways, and this makes a good excuse to roll that out to mainstream. See for yourself.

        Were you aware that bluetooth technology is the primary source for proximity tracking?

        The bluetooth routinely reaches 50 to 100 yards, even if it only informs the device user that they are within a certain proximity like a few feet from your computer, another phone, or your car.

        If you’re concerned about privacy issues, you should turn off all your bluetooth capable devices. Better yet is to throw them in the trash can. The GUI controls on personal computers and phones only make you feel good about ‘turning it off’, but it runs in the background anyways. You can read it with a good quality RF frequency reader. On a personal computer you can turn the bluetooth device ready components off using services and device manager physical hardware settings options.

        Smart appliances. Smart meters. Smart phones. Smart devices. The internet of things. It’s a data net and you have no idea what is coming. Cancel your cellular subscription today or at least turn it down and reduce to a single person cell phone. RF Shielding bags are not actually working well for many brands, some signals still get through. If you willingly accept wireless and/or bluetooth capable devices in your home, auto, or on your person, you are submitting to violations of privacy. Don’t complain about proximity sensors and social distancing if you subscribe and pay to these products. They sold it. You bought it. And believe me, you are getting what you paid for.

        Reply
    • Tony Marzio   May 2, 2020 at 3:57 pm

      Your quote Colorado: QUOTE: ” using a paper printed map book, sending letters by postal mail where censorship is impossible, communicating by email links outside of gmail and google products. It’s not rocket science. You are addicted and therefore, you willingly gave up control.” END QUOTE:
      How wonderful those days were. We had time for each other too! I am happy to go back to that, it seems to be the only way to get our freedom back. IF it is not too late.

      Reply
  5. D. Smith   April 20, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    Let the WHO make all the threats it wants, but the numbers these idiots were actually (really and truly!) hoping for, just aren’t there. Another fake, like SARS.

    And Google can do what they want in their own backyard, but they do not rule the world – – and WE ALL HAVE TO WORK AT IT TO SEE TO IT THAT THEY NEVER DO. If you use google, facebook, twitter, ANY social media besides email, get off it and stay off it.

    That’s the best advice you’ll get on this subject, believe me.

    Reply
  6. Frank Doghearty   April 20, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    My girlfriend noted yesterday that people are muzzled like dogs and are supposed to stay apart, which serves at least one purpose: people don’t talk to each other, which makes it easier to intimidate and control them. While that might or might not be true, it surely makes sense.

    We haven’t seen or known anyone in person who was sick, forget about dying. According to a recent Harvard study, the death rate is comparable to that of the flu, but it’s well known how far even those figures are inflated by up to a thousand times.

    Reply
  7. Fran Doghearty   April 20, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    My girlfriend noted yesterday that people are muzzled like dogs and are supposed to stay apart, which serves at least one purpose: people don’t talk to each other, which makes it easier to intimidate and control them. While that might or might not be true, it surely makes sense.

    We haven’t seen or known anyone in person who was sick, forget about dying. According to a recent Harvard study, the death rate is comparable to that of the flu, but it’s well known how far even those figures are inflated by up to a thousand times.

    Reply
  8. Donna M Nicolaidis   April 23, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Despicable!! This ‘planedemic’ has been used to create fear in society. A fearful society is far easier to control over those who know and understand what a few greedy controlling people are doing. We ALL need to stop living in fear of getting sick that is NOT REAL and take back our life and freedoms. I can no longer even ask God to have mercy on their souls, they are soulless

    Reply
    • Colorado   April 27, 2020 at 2:44 pm

      One presumes with a position like that Mrs Donna Nicolaidis, you have cancelled your cell phone subscription. See my post above.

      Just trying to help. People do not understand the full scope of this, but soon they will.

      Reply
    • Tony Marzio   May 2, 2020 at 4:00 pm

      People are asking God for mercy for themselves and humanity against this build up of extreme demonic evil. We better not hold our breath.

      Reply
  9. KampMore   May 11, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    Only works when your cell phone is ON. Lol. Stupid.

    Reply

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